Index for February 2017

Volume 16, Issue 2

  • (Banktrack, Nijmegen, 28 February 2017) As financial close was announced on the Tanjung Jati B 2 (TJB2) coal expansion power project in Indonesia yesterday, BankTrack, Friends of the Earth Japan and Japan criticised the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and several Japanese and Singaporean banks for their support for the project. JBIC’s approval of a USD 1.7 billion loan agreement for the project, with further backing from the “big three” Japanese commercial banks - Mizuho Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation – as well as other Japanese banks and Singapore’s OCBC, comes after French banks Société Générale and Crédit Agricole withdrew from the bank consortium in December. The building of two new coal power units will make the already hard-felt impacts of the existing Tanjung Jati B coal power station worse. The local fishing community cites reduced catches, damage to the coral reef and collisions between fishing boats and coal transport barges. It will also worsen the impacts of air pollution. A Greenpeace report has estimated that the first four units are already responsible for 1,020 premature deaths per year because of respiratory infections caused by air pollution from the plant.

  • (Above Ground, Ottawa, 15 February 2017) Last year an Ontario-based company, with support from Export Development Canada, sold Internet filtering technology to the government of Bahrain — a country criticized internationally for widespread suppression of human rights defenders through censorship, surveillance, arbitrary detention and torture. In this submission to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, we draw attention to this troubling situation and call for the adoption of regulatory and policy measures to ensure Canada is not complicit in foreseeable human rights violations associated with the use of digital censorship and surveillance technologies supplied by Canadian companies. The kingdom of Bahrain last summer started using Web-filtering software from Netsweeper Inc. as a means of keeping a lid on dissent according to a University of Toronto report.

  • (Financial Tribune, Tehran, 13 February 2017) After a meeting with the Swedish Minister for European Affairs and Trade Anne Linde, Iran's Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi announced that two Swedish banks will allocate credit lines to Iranian companies in the field of communications and information technology.  The visiting delegates were in Tehran on Saturday as part of a high-ranking political and economic mission led by Swedish Premier Stefan Lofven on a three-day visit and included CEOs of companies like Scania, Ericsson, Elekta, Volvo, ABB, Sensys Gatso Group, Swedish Energy Agency, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and Swedish Post and Telecom Authority, along with Danske Bank and EKN (Swedish export credit agency. Recent missions from France, Italy and Germay have shown that Europe will double down on Iran deal even as Trump steps away

  • (Washington Examiner, Washington, 17 February 2017) The Export-Import Bank of the United States is also known as "Boeing's Bank," because about 40 percent of its financing, in the average year, goes to subsidize Boeing sales. Boeing spends a lot of time and money lobbying in favor of Ex-Im. One interesting detail: Kevin Varney, recently a vice president at Ex-Im is now chief of staff for government operations at Boeing. Boeing says they desperately need Ex-Im financing — that is, U.S. taxpayer guarantees for private bank loans to foreign airlines — but the evidence suggests Boeing finds financing sells jets just fine without the subsidy.

  • (Heritate Foundation, Washington, 6 March 2017) For the last five years, conservative lawmakers have rallied behind efforts to close the Export-Import Bank, and were successful in 2015, albeit briefly, when the bank’s charter lapsed for the first time in its history. But now, with President Donald Trump in the White House, conservative lawmakers may have a chance to shutter the bank for good, or at least keep it operating with limited authority. There is just one problem: Trump has sent mixed signals on where he stands on the Export-Import Bank, and though his budget director and advisers oppose the agency, Trump signaled early in his administration he could be swayed.

  • (Guardian, Washington, 22 February 2017) Between 2007 and 2015, the U.S. Export-Import Bank provided $315m in 48 taxpayer-supported insurance policies to the New Jersey-headquartered Connell Company to pursue deals with at least 17 mining companies accused of slave labor, human rights violations and environmental destruction in seven sub-Saharan countries. These included a $20,000 policy to supply equipment to the Bisha copper mine in Eritrea, which is being investigated by a Canadian court amid accusations of slavery, according to an investigation of the bank by the Guardian and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s Energy and Environment Reporting Project.

  • (African Business Magazine, cc, 15 February 2017) The Pan-African trade finance provider aims to support at least $90bn in trade over the period 2017-21, including $25bn in intra-African trade. By comparison, it has approved $41bn in credit facilities in the 24 years since it was created, including $6.2bn in 2015. The Bank hopes to encourage intra-African trade by supporting the development of continental supply chains and export manufacturing capacity.

  • (Italy 24, Rome, 16 February 2017) Fitch said it has affirmed export credit agency SACE rating at 'A-' with outlook negative. “The ratings reflect SACE's strong capitalisation and business profile as Italy's export credit agency as well as its financial exposure to Italy,” Fitch said in a report.